Tips for Hotel Breaks with Kids (or how to get them to sleep in hotels)

In the last seven years we’ve stayed in hotels many times with the kids. (Mostly thanks to the magical SuperValu Getaway breaks promotion, sometimes thanks to the Heatons one)

Our first time Ciarán was weeks old and slept in our enormous super-king bed. Easy. The next he was a year old, took a dislike to the idea of sleep and spent the time shouting at me and throwing his soother out while I worried about how other guests were being kept awake by him. It took a while to recover from that but recover we did and we got wise along the way too.


So to let you not have to learn by trial and error here are my tips for hotel breaks with kids.

  1. Choose your hotel well. “Family Friendly” yes please. “Luxury” or “romantic” leave baby at home. Not because you don’t deserve luxury, but because in a family hotel you’ll be met with better facilities and a more sympathetic clientele if your kids are acting up as it probably was their kid yesterday.
  2. Forget the rules. You’re all on holidays. The kids can absolutely have chicken nuggets for lunch and dinner, and coco pops for breakfast, but only after they’ve eaten their weetabix. Same goes for playing DS under the covers while your baby sister is asleep.
  3. Split up bedtime. The first time we stayed away with both boys we split up. One walked the baby in a buggy around the corridors to get him asleep while the other stayed in the room trying to get the toddler to settle, texts (phone on silent though!) then sent when there’s a child asleep. Less messing.
  4. Remember everyone’s limitations. Meal times get moved around thanks to big late breakfasts and lack of routines so snacks get forgotten about- Feed the kids regularly, hungry kids are not a good addition to holidays. I bring snacks everywhere, but make sure to have some in your hotel room just in case.
  5. Manage your expectations. The kids are on holiday too, it’s all new, they’re excited, they won’t drop off in seconds like they do at home. Let them stay up a little later and see if that means they’ll just drop off quickly. But accept it if they don’t. (Reading this might help – Holidays with Kids: A Good Kind of Different)
  6. Pack separate bags for everyone, or separate sections of the same bag, it’s much easier to find clothes than when they’re all mixed up in the same big suitcase. The cloth bags from Penneys are handy for smaller kids’ clothes or let older kids bring their own backpack with what they need.
  7. Bring baby or toddler’s own bedlinen– I always used bring a fitted cotton sheet for the travelcot and a grobag, it meant bedtime felt more normal for them. Often in hotels they just give you bedsheets rather than cot sheets and they can be a lot harder than what your small person is used to.
  8. Bring in bottles of water with you to the hotel and keep them by the beds for the inevitable drink of water requirements.
  9. Bribe the older kids at bedtime. “Pretend to be asleep til you sister settles and you can have *thing you want*” sometimes this works amazingly as child falls asleep while pretending to be asleep.
  10. Drink the wine. We tend to get a drink in the hotel foyer and let the kids stay up late enough that the smaller ones are suggesting that they go  to bed themselves and then they conk as soon as we get to the room.  Don’t be a nuisance in the foyer by overstaying your welcome with overtired kiddies though.
  11. Hotel kids’ clubs: These can be a great way for parents to get a quiet drink alone, check out hotels that offer them in the evenings.
  12. If it all gets too much, give up. Picture it, 4 year old, teething 2 year old, a 10 weeks pregnant Mammy in a hotel for 3 nights  on a 3 nights for the price of 2 deal with ever patient Daddy. Two-year-old woke every 45 minutes. All night. For two nights . Would only sleep if lying on top of pregnant, nauseous mother. Two nights in we remembered that the third night was free and that there was no shame in going home. Sick child later diagnosed with ear infection slept 12 hours straight in his own cot when we got home. Going home was the best decision we made.


Have a great hotel break!


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